I slip out of my tent and take advantage of the hot showers. While I don’t have a towel with me (I must add that and a toothbrush to my packing list), I use my spare shirt and manage quite well. Back at my tent, I put the billy on to boil and start my day with a cup of tea and some fruity porridge. Even though I’m only out overnight, I feel myself slipping easily into my camp routine.
Once packed I slip out of camp quietly. Many tents still show no signs of life but the kangaroos are awake and so am I. It’s not quite 7am; the perfect time to hit the road.
My first stop is Coominya. The old railway station has been restored and graces a park that straddles the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail. The railway is long defunct but locals are working hard to create a 150km rail trail. The challenges are not just financial. Out here, the weather can wreak havoc with roads as rivers and creeks flood easily. In the pats three years, two devastating floors have seen tall bridges irreparably damaged and whole buildings washed away. But country people are resilient and there are currently two long sections of the trail open: a 70km section from Toogoolawah to Wanora and a 45km section from Moore to Yarraman. Only the middle section remains to be completed but you can travel it by road.
I join the BVRT in Coominya. I follow it south towards Lowood, Fernvale and Wanora. The surface of this section is a challenge on my 700×35 touring tyres so I take off my cycling shoes and switch to sandals so I can easily put my feet down for balance. It comes in handy a few times when I hit soft patches.
The BVRT passes some impressive railway bridges that show just how dramatic the change in water level can be in these parts. Today, this creek was not even ankle deep but the banks are this high for a reason. It was a steep slip and slide down the trail to get across the creek, which has some big sandstone block stepping stones to assist crossing but with a loaded bike the only real option was to wade through.
My favourite stretch of this section of the BVRT was these few kilometers through farmland. The trail was still rough to ride but at least it didn’t follow the road (much of this section of trail runs just 10-50m from sealed roads). I felt like I was on a grand cross-country adventure, even if only for half an hour or so. I have to say that the Vivente held up well to the rail trail and, once I got my rhythm, it was a comfortable ride.
I had a picnic morning tea in Lowood before continuing on the BVRT to Fernvale. This 8km (5 mile) section runs parallel to the main road but is a pleasure to ride due to the smooth soft surface. The W sign my bike is parked next to is an old “whistle” sign that told train drivers they needed to sound their whistles to warn people of their approach. No doubt those living along the line are pleased that the train no longer runs as I’m sure the whistles would have been loud.
From Fernvale I tried to ride the BVRT but it was just a mowed stretch of land in the gully next to the Brisbane Valley Highway so I turned off and rode on the highway instead. I saw later on a map that it does leave the highway but really I don’t see the point in hardship for hardship sake. See, the BVRT section didn’t have any scenery while the highway, being higher, did. From Wanora I followed the roads through scenic valley landscapes to Marburg where I was grateful to find a shop that sold cold drinks. From here I followed quiet rolling back roads to Haigslea. This section was lovely to ride and I’d definitely use it as a conduit to other adventures.
The climb over Mt Marrow was worth it for the stunning views. Farmland stretched before my eyes until it was blocked by the range just west of Brisbane city. Old rusted barns like these dot the landscape everywhere as a testament to the rich farming history these communities hold.
And then it was over. At Karrabin I saw a train heading west to Rosewood and remembered that I didn’t have to cycle all the way to Ipswich in the heat of the day dodging increasingly less courteous traffic. A check of the timetable at the tiny three-platform station showed that the next train would arrive in 20 minutes. So I took a seat in the shade and waited for my ride home. Two train changes, a delightful rocking sleep and about 2.5 hours later, I was detraining in Beenleigh ready to ride the final 17km home.
I thoroughly enjoyed the rhythm of my first cycle tour and can’t wait to go again.